Many homes in Santa Monica use more than 200 gallons of water each day — the equivalent of five bathtubs — to irrigate landscapes, according to Andrew Basmajian, environmental outreach coordinator for the City of Santa Monica.

Much of it simply runs off onto sidewalks, streets and alleys. Research shows that converting turf and other water-thirsty plants to “California Friendly” plants and converting traditional, high-volume sprinkler irrigation systems to water-efficient systems can save up to 80 percent of water and 60 percent of maintenance costs, he says.

Santa Monica offers competitive landscape grants to help property owners take up the conversion challenge, providing partial funding for new or remodeled innovative gardens. To qualify for a grant, the landscaping plan must include water-efficient irrigation, plus one or more of the following:

California native plants, water-efficient plants, storm-water management systems, graywater systems, and/or other innovative water-saving features.

The city provides funding up to $20,000 for California Friendly landscape projects in Santa Monica. Since 2005, local homeowners, apartment owners, businesses and schools have been awarded more than $320,000 in landscaping grants.

Applications for the current grant cycle will be accepted through September 27th..

The landscape grant program is one of 15 programs the city offers to save water and reduce ocean pollution. Managing water demand through California Friendly landscaping will help further the goal of reducing citywide water use 20 percent by 2010. Information, Santa Monica Environmental Programs Division, or (866) 728-3229.